Bullpen Helps Nationals Pick Up Win After Rain Delay

Posted on May 06, 2014 by David Driver

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- The game-time temperature was 63 degrees, and that quickly fell into the 50s as a brisk wind, along with a steady stream of rain, came down from western Maryland and blew into Nationals Park May 5.

It was hardly the type of weather that would inspire tourism folks in Florida. But the Sunshine State was on the mind of the Nationals, for reasons other than weather, during the early morning hours May 6 after the Nationals beat the Dodgers, 4-0.

Nationals Park

Photo Credit: David Driver/PressBox

Rain halted the game in the middle of the fourth inning, and by the time play resumed at nearly midnight, after a break of 3 hours and 17 minutes, there were just a few dozen fans in the stands. Partisans of the Nationals gathered behind the team's dugout on the first-base side, while fans of the Dodgers cheered behind the third-base dugout.

"It's like a backfield spring training game," said Nationals second baseman Danny Espinosa, standing by his locker after the game ended at 1:21 a.m. May 6.

Espinosa, who hit a two-run home run in the eighth, must have been thinking of those side fields at the team's spring training complex in Viera, Fla.

Rookie pitcher Aaron Barrett, who picked up the win with a scoreless fifth inning, brought up Kissimmee, Fla., when describing how few fans were in the stands after play resumed.

Kissimmee is the spring training home of the Houston Astros, who don't draw a boatload of March fans and have entertained thoughts of shifting spring training sites.

"It is tough to get up after a long rain delay like that," Barrett said. "We came out ready to swing it. In those types of situations, with a late game, you always want to be on the winning side. The guys did a great job. It was a team win. I was just the next guy up."

There was a touch of irony that Barrett was credited with the win. He grew up in Evansville, Ind., and was and is good friends with Preston Mattingly, the son of Dodgers manager Don Mattingly.

"It was good to see him," Mattingly said before the game of Barrett. "He was a funny kid, kind of quiet. He's a good kid."

Mattingly said his son, now a college basketball player at Lamar, keeps him up to date about Barrett, who went to the University of Mississippi.

Barrett was one of five relievers the Nationals used after starter Jordan Zimmermann went four innings, but did not return after the rain delay. Barrett, Jerry Blevins, Drew Storen, Tyler Clippard and Rafael Soriano all threw a scoreless inning.

"That is how you plan it," manager Matt Williams said of his effective bullpen. "It's doesn't always go according to plan."

Espinosa also praised the bullpen.

"They have always kept us in games," Espinosa said. "They do a great job."

The rain delay also meant that Dodgers starting pitcher Zack Greinke did not return to the mound once play resumed. That meant his streak of 18 games in a row of allowing two runs or fewer while going at least five innings came to an end. It was the longest streak of its kind since 1914.

"I thought I pitched pretty good," Greinke said. "[I] wasn't perfect, but started to make adjustments, starting to feel better as the game went on. Then, it started raining."

And raining, and raining.

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